An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders and His Campaign

By Eric Zuesse

After the first serious debate on the Democratic Presidential side, 51% said Hillary won; 28% said Bernie did; 6% said O’Malley did.

Hillary won by a substantial margin, nearly two-to-one.

Bernie has gotten as far as he is going to go by merely preaching to the choir; he’s going to need to change his strategy now, to win the majority-support of America’s Democratic voters. Energizing the base will no longer suffice, for the rest of this campaign. Here is how he can do that — 

First: he must wake up to the reality that his base is far smaller than Hillary’s; and, so, he needs immediately to change his issues-focus.

As this shows, the American people just don’t make the connection between “The income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country” and “Middle and working class Americans not being able to get ahead financially.” Even Democratic voters don’t. (They don’t recognize that the steeper the wealth-inequality is, the less economic opportunity the general public will have.) All age-groups, and all income-groups, don’t. (However, the youngest are the most-likely to make the connection.) The few people who do are already your supporters: you’ve been directing your entire campaign to them. Either you will now change your campaign’s strategy, as regards issues-focus, or else you won’t have even a chance to win (short of some major scandal about Hillary, or etc. — in other words: very bad luck for her).

Overwhelmingly, Americans agree with the statement: “As long as I am able to provide the life I want for myself and my family, it doesn’t matter if others are substantially wealthier than I.” 64% choose that option over the mere 36% who instead prefer: “The concentration of wealth and privilege within the top 1 percent of American society is a problem.” It’s not even “a problem,” as far as the American electorate see things.

In a listing of 12 major and much-debated “issues” to American voters, “Income gap between the rich and poor” rated #10, and “Global warming” rated dead-last, 12th.

In response to the question, “In thinking about the gap between the rich and everyone else, do you think it would be …,” 46% chose “Better for the government to implement policies designed to shrink the gap,” and 47% chose “Better for the government to stand aside and let the market operate freely even if the gap gets wider.” (Note that “even if the gap gets wider.” It’s pretty extreme, but that’s the current American ideology: It’s not yours.)

Hillary Clinton’s strategy is based upon a recognition of these realities. Yours is not; but you did a terrific job of getting those few quickly onboard your campaign.

You need to adapt to the current phase of this campaign: the middle portion. You’re stuck in the first portion (winning a base, which you’ve done, though it’s small), while Hillary’s campaign is heading straight for the gold.

You have been concentrating on the issues that are at the very bottom (other than “Abortion,” which was #11) of the 12 listed. Your campaign-focus needs to change immediately, or else you will lose. The crisis in your campaign now is as simple, and as stark, as that.

Second, and finally: It might not be too late to start doing what you need to do: You’ve got to be focusing the entire remainder of your campaign on the “issues” that are felt by voters to be the most important ones. In order, these are: #1: Economy. #2: Social Security and Medicare. #3: Terrorism. #4: Health care. #5: Education. #6: Gun policy. #7: Illegal immigration. #8: Taxes. #9: Foreign policy.

Hillary is mauling you on them, by stringing together platitudes. You are now going to have to break those platitudes — challenge them forcefully and never let up against them; do with them what you have thus far been doing about the “unimportant” issues where you have been building up your small base.

Her platitudes focus mainly on the issues that Americans care the most about. You’ve got to cite the numbers which show that her positions on them will be disastrous (which they would be — you’ve got to make that case, but you haven’t). And you’ve got to state clearly how those same numbers show that your positions on them will be far more likely to improve the situation.

To a large extent, the way you can do this will begin by your showing that her platitudes are platitudes, which ignore what the real source of the given problem actually is.

You need to go beyond your base, but you have given no signal, as of yet, that you are willing to do this, that you are willing to do what you must do in order to win the Democratic nomination.

It might not be too late to start phase two of your campaign.


Eric Zuesse 


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • Tannenhouser

    Call me cynical….. I’m pretty sure the DEM and REP primaries are decided. Plebs just need to play their part. The pretend part I mean. Good day

    • Bev

      An Open Letter to Bernie Sanders

      Dear Bernie,

If you want to win the presidency and elect a revolutionary congress, you must find a way to force accurate counts of votes across the country. There is no reason to believe that machine generated vote counts are accurate when they are not checked for accuracy. This is particularly difficult in places like South Carolina and parts of Kansas, where no paper trail exists to even attempt a public recount. Or Arizona where manual hand counting of ballots is not permitted.

I live in Kansas. I’m a professional statistician and an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer. I find certain patterns in election results quite disturbing. Graphs of Oklahoma primary results are below. Both exhibit a common and concerning pattern: as the number of votes cast in a precinct increases, so does the vote share for the candidate favored by the Washington establishment. This pattern is NOT due to random chance nor do voter demographics explain it. In the fall, the Republican candidates across the board can be expected to show such a pattern wherever machine counting of votes is combined with poor to non-existent auditing of those results. The pattern is consistent with election rigging.

Citizens like myself have had little success in forcing our officials to show the paper trails so we can have confidence in their reported results. I’ve been trying for more than three years to get access to the paper records that would allow me to assess how accurate our computer tabulated official vote counts are. After my latest legal setback, it will be another year before I might get permission. In the meantime, we will be having another election on non-transparent voting machines.

You, as a candidate, have the right to demand manual recounts. Well, in some places anyway. If you were to do so, irrefutable evidence of problems with vote counts will emerge in some of those places. If and only if your supporters can find and correct those problems can your revolution win at the ballot box.

In states that have paper trails, I suggest you start asking for manual recounts of the paper ballots and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) where you can. Whether you won or lost the contest doesn’t matter. The point is to evaluate the size and number of discrepancies and check for bias. Laws vary from state to state. Typically there is a short window of time to request recounts. Many jurisdictions will balk and try to keep you from doing so by various legal maneuvers. But there will be many opportunities through the primary season. You have supporters that can be trained and provide labor hours when needed. A 100% manual recount isn’t necessary. A random sample of precincts is sufficient.

If you recount and find discrepancies, you might receive additional delegates. More importantly, if you were to demand recounts, it would highlight the fact that in many states, those machine counts are never audited or verified with the original paper records. Most citizens are shocked to discover that their vote counting process is not verified, or in some places, verifiable. I know I was when I first discovered this truth about Sedgwick County Kansas in 2012.

Thank you

      Beth Clarkson

The Charts below show the cumulative share of the vote each candidate acquires as the size of the precincts increase. This model clearly shows that as the size of the precinct increases Clinton and Rubio gain a larger share of the votes while Sanders, Trump and Cruz lose votes. This is NOT a random fluke, this is a consistent pattern with machine counted votes. While in OK, this trend was not enough to change who won the election, it may have had an impact on the number of delegates each received.

  • Rich H

    Basing your assumptions on a CBS poll?

    • cettel

      No, if you had had the intelligence to have clicked onto the link, where the article says, “As this shows,” then you would easily have seen the extensive compendium of recent polls on these topics, and you can easily see there, for each finding, the poll that had been its source.

      And those polling-results are not “assumptions.”

      • Rich H

        Ah yes, the intelligence. Well, any bought and paid for source will tell you Hillary won.

        How about this for size?

        • cettel

          That link is irrelevant to the article here.

          • Rich H

            Your citing polls that aren’t here are irrelevant too. Only Americans who can’t tell fact from fiction would consider Hillary a winner. Which might be quite a few of them.

            If I had the time, and a transcript of the debate I could deconstruct virtually every answer given by Hillary and point to it’s lack of credibility and otherwise outright lies.

          • cettel

            “polls that aren’t here”? Did you even click onto that link?

          • cettel

            Re. your: “”

          • Rich H

            Dipshit, look above. I didn’t reply to you directly because you’re an Absolute Know Nothing.

            Seriously, take your ignorance and…..

  • mulga mumblebrain

    As ever one is left gob-smacked in admiration at the sheer depth of the brainwashing of the US populace. Leave it to the Market? Of course, only if those nasty critters, ‘other people’ get screwed.

  • jadan

    Agree. Sanders needs to make concrete proposals for job creation and debt relief. He needs to square off against Clinton and her record of pandering to the rich. When the market collapses, as it is primed to do, he can transform his rhetorical critique of the billionaire class into a radical proposal for revolutionary change in the financial system. Something along the lines of the Kucinich NEED Act is called for. He has to lead, not cravenly follow the polls. The American people will listen when the SHTF. They will be lead when stocks loose 40% of their value.

    • mulga mumblebrain

      And didn’t Obama promise SO much, in 2007.

  • diogenes

    Bernie is playing the roll he is supposed to play in the way it’s supposed to be played. Not that it matters, as far as the end results. This is not surprising and it’s not really dismaying, since it would be foolish to expect anything else.

    What is dismaying, to me, personally, is the spectacle of so many people who think they are thinking, intelligent adults, being taken in over and over and over by the same pathetic charade — even playing along! How many times do you have to see the same movie before you figure out that it’s not going to end differently on the 4th viewing, or the 10th?

    We need to change the movie.

    • mulga mumblebrain

      Sanders is the mature, white Obama. Fool me once etc, fool me over and over and over again, and you have ‘liberal, Free Market, democracy’.

  • Rich H

    O.k., so CBS finds Hillary won the debate, so did some corporate outlets just like the first time.

    Public Policy Polling found the same (apparently they are to be trusted) however they conducted their poll using the following method.

    “PPP interviewed 510 Democratic primary voters nationally by telephone after the debate
    who had been pre-screened on Thursday and Friday as planning to watch the debate and
    willing to give their opinions about it afterward. The survey’s margin of error is +/-4.3%.
    This research was conducted on behalf of Correct The Record. ”

    As for others,

    Huffpo (which I never go to but came up in a google search) had a poll where Sanders kicked butt.

    Here’s Time shedding it’s neocon roots with it’s own poll showing Sanders won at 81%.

    Oh Look! Here’s a CBS Local poll that shows Sanders winning with 92%.

    Wow, even entertainment sites think Bernie won.enStars had Bernie winning with 91%.

    Slate, the super centrist site not worth reading has Sanders winning with 81% had Bernie winning with 85% of the vote.

    Insanely enough, even the Washington Times had Bernie winning with 84% of the vote.

    Sanders absolutely smoked her on the Telegraph’s poll (5.5k to 382).

    Say it Ain’t so, FOX had Bernie winning with 88% of the votes cast.

    et tu Cspan? 4.3k to 600.

    (hat tip to Cleduc2 who compiled most of this list and can be viewed in the comments section at Public Policy Polling,

    So, there’s a few things here. One, is the MSM and PTB want you to think Hillary was the landslide winner so there will be little to no chatter after she’s able to steal the election (think superdelegates – and more). Two, the way the polls were conducted matter. If one’s at home with a land line and agrees to participate (several hundred) vs. the thousands from across the U.S. who can participate on line. The former is a minority of the population the later the majority.

    If one wishes to be fooled by Hillary and her press agents, so be it. She’s buried so deep she doesn’t even know how to tell the truth anymore (assuming at one time she did).

  • wunsacon

    But, Eric, didn’t you and other WB writers say that Bernie won’t do much or enough to stem present and future mass murder?

    While Bernie’s to be commended for voting against the 2003 Destruction of Iraq
    (don’t call it the “Iraq War”, BTW, b/c that makes it sound anodyne and like it “just happened” with no perpetrators), is that enough? Despite opportunity, Bernie hasn’t come out and said anything like Rep. Tulcy Gabbard said. Has Bernie been saying and doing enough to oppose mass murder? According to David Swanson, Bernie supports expanding KSA’s bloody leadership in the region.

    Why should we vote for Bernie instead of Jill Stein or someone else?

    • cettel

      Because Bernie stands a real chance to become President, but Jill Stein is merely a symbolic vote, like not voting at all but just shouting out to yourself “Jill Stein for President!” In other words: because politics means nothing to the extent that it produces nothing.

      And also because I never did say, nor allege, “that Bernie won’t do much or enough to stem present and future mass murder.” I’m not so stupid as to think such a thing. I have considered his entire voting record in Congress, and only an ignoramus or fool would assert such a thing. Furthermore, didn’t you hear him at the recent debate, saying very clearly that the military budget needs to be cut way back and reorganized so as to deal with the threat from ISIS and other such groups, and away from traditional state-to-state armed forces? He very clearly indicated, but so as not to be noticed by fools who think that we should still be at war against Russia, that we must refocus and slash ‘defense’ spending: refocus it on veterans’ medical care, and on the threat that’s posed by our ‘allies’ in the Middle East (such as the Saud family) who finance Al Qaeda and other such groups. Fools are deaf; and, in their imaginings, they hear what they want to hear, such as “Jill Stein is more than just a meaningless ‘protest’ vote!”.

      • wunsacon

        Thanks, Eric, for the reply. I remain undecided but am glad you think Bernie would be a significant positive. I hope you’re correct.

        >> In other words: because politics means nothing to the extent that it produces nothing.

        In the long term, it produces something by sending a message that the oligarchs’ choices do not represent the people. In the short term, it could move the Overton Window by forcing Team-D to publicly co-opt ideas from progressives.

        >> , saying very clearly that the military budget needs to be cut way back
        and reorganized so as to deal with the threat from ISIS and other such
        groups, and away from traditional state-to-state armed forces

        I’m not sure how to differentiate Bernie’s statements from the “avoid ‘stupid’ wars” pitch from candidate Obama.

        Here’s part of the transcript from the debate. Is this what you’re referring to?

        >> We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars (UNINTEL), 5,000 nuclear
        weapons. I think we need major reform in the military making it more
        cost effective but also focusing on the real crisis that faces us. The
        Cold War is over and our focus has got to be on intelligence, increased
        manpower, fighting international terrorism.

        Eric, all those nukes sitting around aren’t killing anyone. As for the stuff Bernie wants to spend more money on, without changing the policy all he’ll accomplish is more of the same. At least in that debate statement, he didn’t address the immorality, utter cruelty, and wasteful nature of our Machiavellian policy.

        • cettel

          Re. your “

    • mulga mumblebrain

      Masochism? Eternal repetition?

  • Rehmat

    Barnie Sanders, like the rest of the presidential hopeful, is against removing influence of big money from politics.

    When it comes to the Muslim world, Sanders is no different than Ben Carsons, who believes that every patriotic American must support Israel.

    Sanders supports Saudi Arabia’s proxy wars for Israel in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya and Gaza to protect the US-Israel’s regional interests.

    Sanders is a lobbyist for the US military establishment, which brings much-needed jobs to his Vermont constituency. He also joined the 100 to 0 vote in the Senate giving a blind moral support to the Zionist regime during its 2014 carpet-bombing of Gaza, killing over 2,000 civilians including 567 children. Watch below how Sanders holds-on to his dirty Zionist pants.

    Bernie Sanders was born into a Polish Jewish family that arrived in United States in 1921. That means he cannot wear the ‘Holocaust Survivor’ badge around his neck, but nothing have stopped him laying that many members of his family died at Auschwitz. As youths, both Bernie and his older brother Larry spent some time on a kibbutz built on land stolen from Palestinian families. Larry met his first wife at the kibbutz. Jewish Tablet magazine said on August 20 that Adolf Hitler and Franklin Roosevelt had the greatest influence over both brothers.

    • mulga mumblebrain

      Too late for Bernie. Obama was ‘the first Jewish President’, already. Boy, do they have things sewn up!